24 Pros and Cons of Living in Saranda Albania: What You Need to Know Before You Go

Thinking about living in Saranda, Albania? In this article we’ll help you decide if Saranda is the right place for you. Whether you’re a digital nomad, expat or looking for a cool vacation destination.

We’ve been traveling full-time for the past four years, and we had Albania on our list of must-visit places. 

During our eight-month journey of living abroad in Europe, we had to exit the Schengen Zone after spending the initial three months in Portugal. Albania, not being part of the Schengen, offers American passport holders a one-year visa on arrival. 

This led us to choose the charming southern coastal town of Saranda as our next destination.

From the stunning beaches in Saranda and a Mediterranean climate to infrastructure challenges and touristy vibe there are many factors to consider about Saranda.

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of living in Saranda and explore what you need to know before making the leap to this beautiful corner of the world.

Pros of Living in Saranda Albania

Saranda offers a laid-back lifestyle with beautiful rocky beaches and a mild climate. The cost of living in Saranda is relatively low, making it an attractive option for remote workers, freelancers, and those looking for a place to retire. 

Saranda’s stunning natural landscapes, including the nearby mountains, crystal-clear waters and nearby national parks make it a great place to explore.  Endless outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, and fishing will keep you busy.

With its affordable living costs, mild climate and thriving nomad/expat community, it’s no wonder this city is gaining popularity.  

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1. Cost of Living in Saranda

Saranda’s reasonable cost of living compared to other European cities makes it an attractive option for budget-conscious individuals. The affordable prices for groceries and daily necessities contribute to the overall low cost of living in Saranda. The cost savings, relative to other European or American cities, can contribute to a more abundant lifestyle. 

Additionally, utilities such as electricity, water, and internet services are reasonably priced, easing the financial burden for expats and remote workers settling in Saranda. 

2. Food and Groceries in Saranda

Even though groceries are more expensive in Saranda than the rest of Albania it’s still affordable. We have a detailed breakdown of our cost of living during our time living in Saranda. Check it out if you want to see exactly what we spent for groceries and living in Saranda.

Shopping at the small local markets for vegetables, eggs and cheese is where you’ll get the best deals. This is similar to other Balkan countries we have lived in like Bulgaria. We found the produce like veggies and fruit to be really good and had so much more flavor than what you can get in the United States.

If you’re looking for a more western style grocery store be sure to check out the Spar and Halo.

3. Affordable Accommodation

Finding a place to live in Saranda can be a little tricky. Airbnb tends to dominate the market and can be overpriced, catering more to tourists. 

When we are living in Europe we usually like to use Flatio.com for long term accomodations. Unfortunately they are not in the Albania market as of 2024.

There is a wide range of affordable apartments available, especially outside the peak tourist season. Most are listed on vacation rental platforms and there are lots of Hotel rooms for short-term stays. But the best deals are on the private marketplaces.

When we first landed in Saranda, we booked our first apartment online. Later, after making friends with fellow nomads and expats, we discovered that we could rent apartments for much less than we initially paid.

If you’re looking to live in Saranda outside of the tourist season (which runs from June to the beginning of September), you can expect to pay around $300-$500 for a 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom short term rental apartment.

Long-term rental agreements are also readily available, offering stability for those seeking extended stays without the hassle of frequent housing changes or inflated cost. 

4. Reasonably Priced Local Cuisine and Dining Out

When we first stayed in Saranda, we found ourselves dining out frequently due to the lack of a well-equipped kitchen in our first apartment. 

As a result, we became quite familiar with the local restaurants and pricing. Being a popular tourist destination, Saranda tends to have slightly higher prices compared to the rest of Albania. However, the prices are still quite reasonable as compared to the United States or the rest of Europe..

If you like Mediterranean food, you’ll have no problem eating out in Saranda. We didn’t have a bad meal once while we lived in Saranda, we think that’s a pretty big pro for us!

On average, our dinner costs for two people ranged from $18 to $25, covering one entree each, an adult beverage, as well as tax and tip.

5. Climate and Weather

Saranda’s Mediterranean climate, boasting warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters make it an inviting place to live all year round. 

With an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, it’s an ideal destination for sun-seeking digital nomads, remote workers, and expats. This was one of the main reasons we were drawn to visit Saranda.

However, during our stay, we encountered some unexpected weather patterns. Surprisingly, the spring months turned out to be unseasonably cold and rainy, which caught us off guard. Locals assured us that this was not the norm, and it didn’t dampen our overall positive impression of this charming location.

  • Average temperatures in the winter range from a high of 55 F/13 C  to a low of 34/ 1 C
  • Average temperatures in the summer range from a high of 93 F/ 34 C to a low of 58/ 15 C

The limited rainfall during summer makes Saranda perfect for outdoor activities, while even the damp winters offer enjoyable coastal walks and opportunities to hike in the surrounding natural beauty.

6. Scenic Beauty

Saranda boasts breathtaking coastal views, featuring crystal-clear turquoise water and rugged cliffs.

The city is enveloped by a majestic mountain backdrop, offering stunning sunsets that we witnessed from our balcony almost every night.

Walking along the promenade you can enjoy views of the water, fishing boats, and the island of Corfu Greece across the Ionian Sea. 

Community and Lifestyle

Saranda’s close-knit expat community provides a great avenue for connecting with like-minded travelers, nomads, and full time residents.

The relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle offers a perfect balance of leisurely living and vibrant social scene. 

Locals are friendly and the welcoming nature of the community in Saranda ensures that newcomers can seamlessly integrate and feel at home in this small coastal town. 

7. Close-Knit Expat Community

The expat community in Saranda plays a big role in supporting individuals transitioning into life abroad, offering practical advice and emotional encouragement.  

Exterior of Expat bar in Saranda Albania
Expat Bar in Saranda, The Dick & Devils Pub © Joel Hartz

When we first heard about the vibrant expat community in Saranda, we knew we had to experience it for ourselves. From the moment we stepped into one of the local expat bars, we were warmly greeted by the owners and quickly found ourselves making new friends.

TIP: Check out the Dick and Devils, a lively expat bar run by Americans who moved to Saranda. 

Throughout our two-month stay, we formed friendships with numerous nomads and full-time travelers, leaving us with such a positive experience that we’re already planning our next visit. 

For digital nomads, remote workers, and expats looking to build new connections, Saranda’s expat community is incredibly welcoming and inclusive. 

8. Relaxed Mediterranean Lifestyle and Friendly Locals

We absolutely love the laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle, and Saranda perfectly embodies that vibe. 

In our experience Albanians are good natured and friendly, and to our surprise, many of them spoke English, especially the younger generation. 

Strolling along the promenade at night, you’ll see Albanian families enjoying a walk before dinner to catch up with neighbors and friends while kids run around playing. Think of it sort of like a happy hour but in Albanian it’s called Xhrio.

9. Opportunities for Recreation

There are plenty of things to do in Saranda, Albania including hiking, swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing at its beautiful beaches. 

Exploring the historical sites in Saranda provides a fascinating glimpse into the region’s rich past and cultural heritage. 

These experiences combine natural beauty with historical importance, catering to a wide range of interests for tourists and locals. 

10. Beach Activities

In Saranda, taking a leisurely sunset stroll along the coastline is a picturesque way to wrap up the day. It’s one of our top choices for ending the night, especially with a glass of wine in hand!

If you’re up for some adventure, consider chartering a boat tour to explore the other beaches beyond Saranda. A few of our friends had a fantastic time as the local guide took them to some remote beaches along the coast. It’s a perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Pirate boats are a big hit with tourists in Saranda. It’s a lively party atmosphere with loud music and dancing, but still looked like a good time.

Organizing beach picnics is a great way to meet up with friends. We did this a couple of times and even had pizza delivered directly to us on the beach!

11. Exploring Historical Sites

Immerse yourself in Saranda’s history by visiting ancient Venetian, Roman, Greek and Ottoman ruins.

Guided tours of Butrint National Park offer an educational yet captivating exploration of ancient civilizations. Visiting Butrint was a highlight of our time in Albania, with Roman and Venetian ruins and a lovely national park with walking trails. 

A ten minute drive up the mountain in Saranda will lead you to Lëkurësi Castle. The panoramic views of both land and the Ionian Sea are stunning.  

12. Safety and Security

Saranda’s low crime rate sets the stage for a safe and secure environment, ideal for solo travelers and expats seeking tranquility and peace of mind. 

We felt very safe walking around Saranda, but like any destination just be mindful of personal possessions like purses, phones or wallets. We like to use Pacsafe for daypacks that keep your important items safe while traveling or in crowded spaces.

Albania is actually one of the safest countries in Europe with a very low violent crime rate.

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Cons of Living in Saranda Albania

Living in Saranda offers a unique lifestyle with its share of challenges. The cost of living can be a bit high compared to the rest of Albania, especially during the tourist season. 

The local infrastructure, including roads and public transportation options, are not as developed as in other European cities. Airport access in Albania is a limiting factor, making it more difficult to travel to and from the country.

Additionally, the significant increase in tourism during the peak summer months can lead to crowded beaches and restaurants, impacting the overall experience of living in this coastal city.

1. Limited Airport Infrastructure

As for airports in Albania, there is one main international airport located in the capital city Tirana. From Tirana you can try to navigate the buses in Albania to take you to Saranda but this would not be our first choice. 

Most people we met would hire private drivers to pick them up at the Tirana airport then make the three hour drive to Saranda. 

Ferry leaving for Corfu, Greece from Saranda, Albania
A ferry leaving the port in Saranda, Albania © Joel Hartz

The closest international airport is on the island of Corfu, Greece which is visible from Saranda. Traveling to Saranda we flew to Corfu and then took a 35 minute ferry ride to Saranda. Keep in mind in the off season there are fewer flights and ferry’s available to Corfu.

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2. Limited Public Transportation Options

Another downside are the limited public transportation options in the city. The lack of options can pose challenges for those without private vehicles or individuals who prefer not to drive. 

The Albania bus system can be hard to figure out for first time visitors and is not always reliable. We couldn’t find any time tables online so you just have to walk up to the drivers and ask where they’re going and when they’re leaving. Some tickets can be purchased on the bus and others at the Bus Station located behind the ruins.

We weren’t brave enough to try out the buses in Albania during our stay but maybe on our next visit!

Ferries moored at Port of Saranda, Albania
Port of Saranda, Albania © Joel Hartz

Reliance on taxis or personal vehicles may result in increased expenses for daily commuting within the city. We took taxis to and from the port to our apartment with all of our luggage. Be prepared to negotiate your taxi fare, otherwise 1000 lek ($10) should get you across town.  

TIP: Pay the drivers in LEK instead of Euros or Dollars, you will get a better exchange rate.

3. Construction in Saranda

Saranda is going through a transformation with new construction projects that are improving the city’s modern infrastructure. However, this also brings a lot of noise, especially during the off-season. 

Many of the projects involve high-rise apartment buildings. As Saranda is nestled into the side of a mountain, creating space for buildings requires jackhammering into the earth, resulting in significant daily noise.

During our stay, we experienced the sounds of Sarandas expansion firsthand. Unfortunately for some of our friends, they were situated right next to a major construction project, which kept them up at night and woke them up early in the morning. 

However, if you plan to visit during the peak tourist season in the summer, you won’t have to worry about the noise, as the city halts all construction to ensure a more pleasant stay for visitors.

TIP: If you’re planning to stay for a couple of months, one recommendation is booking a hotel for your first week. Take this time to explore the city and find the best place for you to live. After that, you can reach out to local landlords or expats to help secure a longer-term rental.

4. Very Touristy

Saranda’s popularity means there are plenty of amenities and services catering to tourism, from well-equipped beach clubs and hotels to restaurants, and cozy cafes. 

However, this also results in a high influx of tourists and overcrowding. We only encountered a bit of this towards the end of our stay, especially when large cruise ships docked, bringing in lots of people to the city.

Boats moored along promenade in Saranda, Albania
Boat Tours moored along the Promenade in Saranda, Albania © Joel Hartz

Another drawback is during the summer months beaches are private so you have to pay to enter and you will be charged around $5-$10 just to access the beach. If you want a chair or umbrella that will run you about $30.

It’s worth noting that Saranda lacks some of the old-world charm found in many European cities. The town is dominated by modern hotels and high-rise apartment buildings catering to tourists. While this isn’t necessarily a negative aspect, those expecting quaint cobblestone streets or stunning architecture may not find them in Saranda.

5. Aggressive Transient Travelers

Promenade in Saranda, Albania on Sunny day
View of Saranda Promenade © Joel Hartz

During the summer months there is an influx of transient travelers and their families in Saranda. These children are quite aggressive and are often found in the touristy areas around the Promenade, the port and Saranda beach. It is advised to steer clear of them and be extra mindful of your personal belongings.

6. Driving is Chaotic and Fast

Embracing the unique charm of Saranda, Albania includes navigating the streets and its drivers. It was a bit of a shock when we arrived in Saranda. We had just come from spending three months in Portugal where it’s mandatory to stop for pedestrians. This is not necessarily the case in Saranda.

Albanians drive fast and you’re not always sure they’ll stop for you in the crosswalks.

The fast-paced driving environment may overwhelm those accustomed to more structured traffic patterns so keep that in mind if you’re planning on renting a car in Saranda

7. Not the Most LGBTQ Friendly

Albania has a unique religious landscape due to its history. Religion was banned for a significant period under the rule of Enver Hoxha from 1944-1985, leading to a less religious society.

However, it remains a traditional and conservative country, particularly in its approach to issues of equality and the LGBTQ community. Public displays of affection amongst members of the LGBTQ community are not as common in Albania and may draw unwanted attention. Best to presume an unofficial  “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. 

8. Not Handicap Accessible, Steep Hills and Lots of Steps

Saranda can be challenging to navigate if you have mobility issues. The city is nestled into the mountainside, resulting in numerous steps and steep roads between streets. Ramp accessibility is limited, and while the main promenade offers a smooth walking surface, many sidewalks in Saranda feature large holes, rebar, and uneven ground.

9. Litter

While the main promenade, beaches and water are very clean in Saranda which is nice to see, you will find quite a bit of trash and litter around the city. 

Sidewalks and streets are where the trash bins are located and most times they are overflowing with litter strung out all around the area. 

Although from talking with friends who have been coming to Saranda the last couple of years the trash situation has improved. 

10. Language Barriers

Albania is a very unique county with its own language called Shqip which is not related to any of the neighboring languages like Greek or Italian. This lack of familiarity to other languages poses communication issues and makes reading signs and documents difficult. 

In Saranda however, you will find most people working in tourism or restaurants can speak a little bit of several languages like Italian, Greek and English. Google translate is a highly recommended tool to use when in Saranda and especially the more rural areas outside the city. 

11. Cash is King in Saranda

Spending anytime in Albania and specifically Saranda, you will need to carry cash for nearly everything. Albania is largely a cash based society and this is evident in Saranda. Be prepared to pay ATM fees when accessing cash in Saranda. You can find plenty of cash exchanges all over Saranda to exchange U.S., Euro to Lek.

12. Building Safety Concerns

Many buildings, including both of the apartments we stayed in, appeared to have serious safety concerns. One major issue was inadequate balcony railings, posing a significant risk to anyone using the balcony. Additionally, we noticed a complete absence of fire suppression systems or even smoke/fire alarms in both apartments we lived.

We would recommend inquiring about these safety issues when securing accommodations. Additionally we recommend traveling with a portable smoke or carbon monoxide detector for added peace of mind.

Tips for Living in Saranda as a Remote Worker

Saranda’s tranquil environment and beautiful beaches make it an ideal location for remote work, offering a relaxed coastal lifestyle that is conducive to productivity and work-life balance. 

We found the city’s relatively low cost of living allows remote workers and expats to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle with a high quality of living.

However, it’s essential to be mindful of the internet connectivity in different areas of Saranda, considering this factor when choosing accommodations. There are two tiers of internet access available and you will want to have the faster of the two for video calls. 

Exploring co-working spaces or cafes with reliable Wi-Fi can provide a nice change of scenery and boost productivity while working remotely. 

On 5th road in Saranda is where you’ll find some very nice cafes with absolutely beautiful views. We went multiple times to a couple of cafes on this street to have a coffee or glass of wine and work. 


The appeal of living in Saranda, Albania is undeniable, with its affordable cost of living, coastal views, and mild Mediterranean climate. The scenic beauty, coupled with access to historical sites, make Saranda an ideal location for remote workers and digital nomads seeking a peaceful yet vibrant coastal lifestyle. 

However, the city’s popularity among tourists, coupled with a lack of infrastructure, might present some challenges to individuals aspiring to call Saranda home. 

With the right mindset and adaptability, Saranda can truly become a home where one can thrive and experience the richness of coastal living. Whether you’re a remote worker, digital nomad, or expat seeking a change of pace, Saranda beckons with its unique blend of beauty, community, and lifestyle.

More Accommodations options in Saranda, Albania

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Frequently Asked Questions about Saranda

Can you fly into Saranda?

No, Saranda does not have an airport you can fly into. The closest international airport is located on Corfu, Greece. From there you can take a 35 minute ferry ride to Saranda, Albania

Is Saranda, Albania worth visiting?

Yes, we think Saranda is worth visiting. It’s a beautiful Mediterranean coastal town with an affordable cost of living and mild climate.

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Happy Wandering!

Joel and Michelle